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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 13-03-20

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

Wednesday, 20 March 2013 Issue No: 4314

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM Samaras expresses support to Cyprus after rejection of bank deposits levy
  • [02] PM chairs meeting on Cyprus econ developments
  • [03] President Papoulias has phone contact with PM Samaras
  • [04] PASOK, DIMAR leaders call for revision of EU decision on Cyprus
  • [05] SYRIZA acclaims Cyprus parliamentary vote
  • [06] FinMin Stournaras briefs political leaders on Eurogroup teleconference
  • [07] FinMin to brief parliamentary European affairs, financial affairs committees on Eurogroup decisions on Cyprus
  • [08] Samaras cancels Finland trip
  • [09] Eurogroup haircut decision 'short-sighted and punitive', Venizelos
  • [10] SYRIZA's Tsipras calls for immediate parliament briefing on Cyprus; government response
  • [11] SYRIZA bashes parliament president's decision to refuse parliament plenum meeting on Cyprus issue, draws response from ND
  • [12] SYRIZA delegation visiting Cyprus on Wednesday
  • [13] Independent Greeks leader demands FinMin's removal
  • [14] KKE party on developments in Cyprus
  • [15] Blocking bank accounts is unconstitutional, Council of State rules
  • [16] Ecumenical Patriarch dines with new Pope on eve of enthronement
  • [17] FM Avramopoulos represents Greece at papal inauguration
  • [18] Turkish corvette sailing north of Crete
  • [19] Boosting liquidity top economic goal, Greek FinMin says
  • [20] Greek capital market authorities suspend trading in Cyprus Bank, CPB
  • [21] Cypriot banks' ATM network operating smoothly in Greece
  • [22] Greek exports suffer heavily from developments in Cyprus
  • [23] Tourism Minister Kefaloyianni praises private initiatives
  • [24] Deputy Dev't Minister in NYC for investments
  • [25] Eldorado Gold Corp does not rule out withdrawing from Greece
  • [26] Greece raises 1.3 bln euros from T-bill auction
  • [27] Registered unemployment up 3.07 pct in Feb
  • [28] Social insurance fund personnel to strike on Thursday
  • [29] Intralot launches new internet casino game in US market
  • [30] Three Greek food companies in Japan's food exhibition
  • [31] Large turnout at ENERGY TECH exhibition in Thessaloniki
  • [32] Greek stocks plunge 3.85 pct on Cyprus worries
  • [33] Greek bond market closing report
  • [34] ADEX closing report
  • [35] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday
  • [36] Hagia Sophia a world cultural heritage monument, Foreign Minister
  • [37] Road fatalities drop by 10 pct in Greece, EU
  • [38] Peloponnese towns to haul garbage to Attica landfill
  • [39] Police dismantle gang that punched a 89-year-old to death for 150 euros
  • [40] Three suspects escape from police lock-up facility in Agrinio
  • [41] Cloudy on Wednesday
  • [42] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] PM Samaras expresses support to Cyprus after rejection of bank deposits levy

    Prime Minister Antonis Samaras had a telephone contact Tuesday evening with Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades, following the rejection by the Cyprus House of Representatives of a levy on bank deposits proposed by the Eurogroup, as part of a bail-out programme.

    Samaras expressed the Greek government's support to Cyprus, while his discussion with Anastasiades focused on possible solutions, after the rejection of Eurogroup's plan.

    Earlier, government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou commenting on developments in Cyprus, said "Greece has been and continues supporting the choices of Cyprus."

    Greece "supported Cyprus at the Eurogroup, and continues to support the country now," Kedikoglou added, saying that "the moment is too crucial to be used for petty partisan interests."

    [02] PM chairs meeting on Cyprus econ developments

    Prime Minister Antonis Samaras chaired a meeting of the government's economic staff on Tuesday morning, the main focus of which was the developments in Cyprus and in wait of the decisions that will be taken in Nicosia.

    Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras briefed Samaras on the outcome of the Eurogroup remote conference held Monday, and described the solution proposed for Cyprus as "the least painful".

    Athens has made it clear that there is no problem with respect to deposits in Greek banks, while Stournaras has said that there is a plan ready for the absorption of the Cypriot banks' branches in Greece.

    On the Greek government's contacts with the European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) Troika of Greece's international lenders, Stournaras expressed optimism that a solution will be found for all the outstanding items.

    He further insisted on his position that the extraordinary real estate surtax, which is currently collected via PPC electricity bills, should continue to be collected through the electricity bills in 2013 as well, given, he said, that this is "the most realistic solution".

    [03] President Papoulias has phone contact with PM Samaras

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias had a telephone conversation with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras Tuesday evening focusing on latest developments in Cyprus, following the rejection by the Cyprus House of Representatives of a levy on bank deposits proposed by the Eurogroup, as part of a bail-out programme.

    Earlier, Papoulias contacted also by phone Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades.

    [04] PASOK, DIMAR leaders call for revision of EU decision on Cyprus

    The leaders of the junior parties in the tripartite ruling coalition came out of a meeting with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Cyprus, late on Tuesday night, calling on the EU to reconsider its decision on the island republic.

    Their responses came after Cyprus' House of Representatives turned down a bank deposits levy in order to issue the country a loan.

    The Eurozone's decision on Cyprus is a historical mistake, PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos said, exiting the Maximos Mansion government headquarters, adding that the EU "ought to correct it in order to stabilise Cyprus and prevent side-effects." Greece's interest in Cyprus is double-faceted, he said, both national and economic, and there is room for finding a solution within the next few days.

    "Our support is a given, the Greek banking system is entirely secure. Solutions for Cyprus can be found and countries beyond the EU can contribute to these," Venizelos said.

    He said there would be no layoffs in the civil service, except for those who had been charged on breach of trust grounds, and said that the special real estate tax should be replaced by the unifying tax because circumstances were now different than they were in November 2011, when it was introduced.

    "Europe ought to revise its decision on Cyprus," Democratic Left (DIMAR) leader Fotis Kouvelis said, while he said that in Greece's case, he stands by his positions regarding administrative reform and the abolition of a special real estate tax.

    The EU must recognise it is at a critical crossroads and these decisions cannot resolve the crisis, he said; what is obviously needed is a transparent banking system in Europe which Germany opposes.

    "Greece stands by and supports Cyprus," the DIMAR leader said, adding that an adverse development in Cyprus would have repercussions for Greece, although, he said, the Greek banking system is protected.

    [05] SYRIZA acclaims Cyprus parliamentary vote

    Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) on Tuesday praised the Cyprus parliament for turning down the conditions set by the EU for a bailout.

    "Following the proud 'No' of the Cyprus parliament, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras remain the most faithful adherents of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's strategy," the main opposition party said, adding, "Today's decision by the Cyprus parliament shows the way of a real negotiation that no memorandum-bound government in our country has ever considered following."

    [06] FinMin Stournaras briefs political leaders on Eurogroup teleconference

    "Greece is fully protected. Cyprus will not default," Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said after the end of a meeting of political parties' leaders on Tuesday afternoon. ???

    Stournaras said he briefed political leaders on Monday's Eurogroup teleconference.

    [07] FinMin to brief parliamentary European affairs, financial affairs committees on Eurogroup decisions on Cyprus

    Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras will brief an extraordinary meeting of parliament's standing committees on European Affairs and Financial Affairs at 5:00 p.m. Wednesday on the Eurogroup decisions on Cyprus.

    [08] Samaras cancels Finland trip

    Prime Minister Antonis Samaras cancelled an official visit to Finland for March 22-24, where he had been scheduled to meet with political leaders and attend a conference with six European prime ministers.

    [09] Eurogroup haircut decision 'short-sighted and punitive', Venizelos

    The "short-sighted and punitive decisions" of the Eurozone for Cyprus harm all of Europe, PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos said in Athens on Tuesday following successive phone calls to Cyprus Republic President Nicos Anastasiades, Parliament President and EDEK party president Ioannis Omirou, AKEL party secretary general Andros Kyprianou and Democratic Party leader Marios Karoyian.

    Referring to the recent Eurogroup decision for a haircut for bank deposits in Cyprus, Venizelos said that "we know how hard it is for someone to move within conservative, European and global conditions and to negotiate with officials who do not wish to see the social and developmental dimensions of a crisis that is not just financial or fiscal."

    He also said that the Eurozone's dilemma now is "whether to amend its decisions on Cyprus and bringing events under control, or set off uncontrollable events that will harm it overall." Cyprus' support is a national obligation, he said, and expressed the hope that "the small, in absolute numbers, size of the Cyprus economy" will allow for alternative solutions of strategic interest in Greece and the Eastern Mediterranean.

    [10] SYRIZA's Tsipras calls for immediate parliament briefing on Cyprus; government response

    Main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday reiterated that the Greek parliament should be briefed by the prime minister immediately and called for an extraordinary EU Summit meeting to avert the implementation of the decision on Cyprus, expressing hope that the Cyprus House of Representatives will not endorse the Eurogroup decision.

    In a statement on the latest developments, Tsipras expressed concern about the situation in Greece and Cyprus and attributed the EU decisions to geo-political reasons noting that their aim is to impose financial domination on Cyprus and control its resources. Tsipras also voiced strong concern for the stability of the eurozone.

    In his statement, Tsipras underlined that the decisions of the EU leadership and Germany in particular constitute strategy of colonization targeting the European south using as a tool debt-related blackmail.

    Tsipras underlined the need to avert the implementation of those decisions before the damage becomes irreversible.

    He strongly criticized Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras saying that they have historical responsibilities, adding that everything happened in secrecy and without briefing the parliament and the people.

    Tsipras called on the prime minister to immediately brief the parliament and the Greek people, adding that he has no right to make high risk decisions without the parliament's approval.

    Tsipras accused the government of "tying the country" to Chancellor "Merkel's chariot", of violating every promise made, including the pledge for renegotiation, and of characterizing the "Greek EEZ" as "European". He also said that the attempted geo-political control of Cyprus and its hydrocarbons constitutes colonial practice.

    He underlined that there are limits in the people's tolerance and called on the Cypriot parliament to reject the EU decision. He also called on Prime Minister Samaras to brief the Greek Parliament and call an extraordinary summit meeting to make it clear that the Greek side will not accept the decisions.

    Gov't reaction

    Government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou responded to Tsipras saying that "he fantasizes being the President of the Cyprus Republic because obviously in Greece he is unable to convince even his own people."

    "Among other unthinkable statements, he even said that Greece should block the eurogroup decision even if the Cypriot parliament chooses to vote in favour. This is nothing but political opportunism. We do not accept lessons of love for the country delivered by the leader of a political party that accepts the irredentist aspirations of fYRoM, says that the Aegean Sea belongs to its fish and gives away Greek islets to Turkey," he concluded.

    [11] SYRIZA bashes parliament president's decision to refuse parliament plenum meeting on Cyprus issue, draws response from ND

    Main opposition SYRIZA on Tuesday sharply criticised Parliament president Evangelos Meimarakis' rejection of a request by SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras to convene an extraordinary parliament plenary session to discuss the "dramatic developments in Cyprus".

    In an announcement, SYRIZA stated that the "Parliament president's announcement comes as a surprise".

    "Prime Minister Antonis Samaras fears parliament, he fears the people and the light. He is accustomed to subjugation to the behind-the-scenes and is terrified of a dialogue 'at the forefront', in parliament", SYRIZA charged.

    The main opposition party also noted that "due to the criticality of the developments and the huge responsibilities of the three-party government in their formation, with Cyprus' Hellenism as the victim, SYRIZA demands that the Greek people be fully informed on Prime Minister Samaras' criminal stance at the EU Summit and of Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras' at the Eurogroup meeting".

    Moreover, SYRIZA sends a message that it will do whatever possible to reveal what is hidden behind Samaras' complicity in the EU's decision that has brought turmoil not only in Cyprus and Greece but also in Europe".

    It charged evasion, maneuvering, alibis and interpretation at will of the Rules of Parliament, which do not convince anyone.

    In a counter-attack, New Democracy (ND) charged that "SYRIZA's opportunism has no limits", and accused the main opposition party of "doing everything to exploit anything".

    "After exhausting its demagogy on the crisis in Greece, it is now speculating on the tribulation being faced by Cyprus," an ND announcement said.

    ND said that SYRIZA "forgets that the taxation of deposits, which it condemns today as the destruction of Cyprus, had been fanatically proposed by its own cadres for Greece, on those who had incomes or bank deposits of over 20,000 euros".

    "SYRIZA forgets, but all the Greeks remember. This is precisely what we averted from happening in Greece after the elections! And now that it is happening in Cyprus, SYRIZA again protests...," ND continued, and criticised the main opposition party also on its request for an urgent session of the Greek parliament.

    "The Greek parliament will convene to decide what, exactly? To intervene in Cyprus' internal affairs? Or to further destabilise the situation, when all the countries are worried about the repercussions of the crisis? And SYRIZA does not tell us what it itself proposes, since it now criticises what it had championed in the past!," ND said, adding that "this is now SYRIZA's only usefulness: to show us how catastrophic its political irresponsibility is..."

    [12] SYRIZA delegation visiting Cyprus on Wednesday

    A delegation of the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) will be going to Cyprus on Wednesday, according to an announcement by the main opposition party. The delegation will be holding talks with the AKEL party and others, focusing on the recent decision by the Eurogroup on the Cyprus economy.

    [13] Independent Greeks leader demands FinMin's removal

    Independent Greeks leader Panos Kammenos demanded on Tuesday the removal of Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras, prompted by the developments in Cyprus, and called for the forging of a national policy line against the Memorandum.

    In a statement, Kammenos sternly attacked the government which, as he stated, "via Mr. Stournaras voted for German Chancellor Angela Merkel's plan" which he warned leads to the destruction of Cyprus' economy as well as Cyprus' image abroad", adding that it "destroys Cyprus' relations with Russia".

    Kammenos said the Finance Minister's immediate dismissal is mandatory, as well as an "end to the memorandums policy and the forging of a national plan for the country's exit from our lenders' vise".

    [14] KKE party on developments in Cyprus

    An announcement by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on developments in Cyprus stressed that "the escalation of the attack [by the EU] concerns the rights of the Cypriot working class and of the popular classes in their entirety and is not limited to the haircut of popular deposits".

    KKE added that this "is the result on the one hand of the pro-memorandum policy that is being implemented in all the member-states of the European Union and on the other of the acceleration of competition between the imperialist centres on the control of the markets and the energy paths in the Eastern Mediterranean".

    It also stressed that "the developments in Cyprus and in general reveal that its accession to the EU was not a solution of salvation and popular prosperity, as the propaganda promoted."

    [15] Blocking bank accounts is unconstitutional, Council of State rules

    The Council of State ruled on Tuesday that a 2004 law giving tax and finance fraud authorities the right to block bank accounts and safety deposit boxes is unconstitutional and contravenes the European Convention on Human Rights.

    The case was tried by a division of the court and will be put before the plenary session for a final decision.

    Law 3296/2004 allowed the blocking of bank accounts and assets in financial crimes and wide tax evasion and black marketeering by the Financial and Economic Crime Unit (SDOE), part of the Ministry of Finance.

    In its argument, the court said that the measure results in a serious restriction of a tax payer's rights to assets and financial and professional freedom, all of which are guaranteed by constitutional articles 17 and 5, and said that the conditions for applying the measure had to be set out very clearly and objectively, on the basis of the principles of proportionality and a state of justice. It also said that the law did not set a limit to the assets that could be blocked or for how long, and did not provide the process to be followed for introducing and lifting the activation of the law.

    [16] Ecumenical Patriarch dines with new Pope on eve of enthronement

    ROME (AMNA/Th. Andreadis)

    The new Pope, Francis, dined with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew "in a cordial, Christian climate" on Monday night, according to sources.

    Bartholomew, the first Ecumenical Patriarch to attend the enthronement of a Pope since the Schism in 1054, dined with the Pope on the eve of the latter's enthronement for two-and-a-half hours. Both Church leaders are residing inside the Vatican, at the Domus Santae Martae.

    [17] FM Avramopoulos represents Greece at papal inauguration

    Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos represented Greece at the inauguration of Pope Francis I in the Vatican on Tuesday.

    Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, also present, will be the first such prelate of the Eastern Orthodox Church to attend a papal inauguration in ten centuries following the schism between the eastern and western churches in 1054. In addition, in Francis I's inauguration, the Gospel was recited solely in Greek instead of including Latin as well.

    [18] Turkish corvette sailing north of Crete

    A Turkish corvette, TCG Bafra, is currently sailing north of Crete, following a south-southwest course, after it entered Greek territorial waters between Evia and Andros island on Tuesday morning, then sailed on a south-southwest course, passed between Kea and Kythnos islands and exited Greek territorial waters of Kea.

    According to estimates and the ship's course, the Turkish corvette is expected to sail south of Crete as part of its voyage.

    Greek Navy ships and Air Force aircraft are monitoring the warship during its entire voyage.

    Financial News

    [19] Boosting liquidity top economic goal, Greek FinMin says

    Boosting liquidity in the Greek economy is a primary goal of the government and this cannot be made only with direct investments but with facilitating Greek enterprises in accessing international capital markets, Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said on Tuesday, adding that a Greek state bond buy back scheme reduced Greek bond yields and facilitated large companies' access to international markets.

    In a report to Parliament, responding to a question by Independent Greeks deputy Maria Kollia-Tsarouha, the Finance mnister stressed that "a forthcoming recapitalization of financial institutions through the Financial Stability Fund will significantly improve financial conditions in Greece". He forecast a recovery of deposits in Greek banks as a result of an improving confidence of depositors, while banks -stronger after their recapitalization- will manage to gradually return to international capital markets contributing to restoring the Greek economy on a sustainable path.

    Stournaras noted that the government has launched all necessary procedures to offer liquidity to the system, including the European Investment Bank and underlined that EIB completed the disbursement of funds worth 900 million euros with the guarantee of the Greek state for the support of Greek small- and medium-sized enterprises, PPC, DESFA and Thessaloniki Metro. The Finance minister said that the EIB will disburse a sum of more than 1.5 billion euros to finance large road projects, Attico Metro, PPC and other SMEs.

    [20] Greek capital market authorities suspend trading in Cyprus Bank, CPB

    Greek capital market authority on Tuesday announced the temporary suspension of trading in the shares of Cyprus Bank and Cyprus Popular Bank (CPB, following a similar decision taken by Cypriot authorities.

    The capital market commission also said it was temporary suspending trading on convertible securities of Cyprus Bank and derivative products of Cyprus Bank and Cyprus Popular Bank.

    The suspension of trading is effective for Tuesday and Wednesday, the days on which trading on the Cyprus Stock Exchange has been suspended.

    [21] Cypriot banks' ATM network operating smoothly in Greece

    The Cypriot banks' ATM networks in Greece are operating normally and without any problems after a decision by Cypriot authorities that Greek branches will remain close on Tuesday and Wednesday.

    Bank officials said the use of ATMs was within normal levels and noted that Cypriot banks' ATM network was fully supplied in cash to cover their clients' daily needs.

    Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras, in comments made on Monday night, reiterated that there was absolutely no danger for Greek depositors, with deposits in Cypriot, Greek or any other bank. A decision by Eurogroup to impose an extra duty on Cypriot banks' deposits did not cover deposits in Cypriot banks' branches in Greece.

    Speaking to reporters, Stournaras said "we are ready to acquire all assets by Cypriot bank branches in Greece". The Bank of Greece has undertaken the task of seeking interest in buying Cypriot banks operating in Greece. Bank sources said all large systemic banks in Greece expressed interest in the transaction, while there is always a plan for Hellenic Postbank to buy Cypriot banks' assets.

    Three Cypriot banks operate in Greece, Cyprus Bank, Cyprus Popular Bank and Hellenic Bank with a network of more than 330 branches and a workforce of around 5,000. The three banks have accumulated assets of 25 billion euros, deposits of around 14 billion euros and loan portfolio of around 20 billion euros. Cyprus Bank began operations in Greece in 1991 and has a 5.0 pct market share. Based on the result of January-September 2012, the bank said its loan portfolio worth 9.6 billion euros, deposits were 6.3 billion euros. The bank had a network of 160 branches with 2,300 employees.

    Cyprus Popular Bank also began operations in 1991 and after a merger with Egnatia Bank and Marfin Bank it raised its branch network to 130 in Greece. The bank has a workforce of 2,000 employees, a loan portfolio of 10 billion euros and deposits of around 6.0 billion euros.

    Hellenic Bank opened its first branch in Greece in 1998 and has a network of 30 branches currently with 400 employees. Loan portfolio was 914 million euros and deposits at 615 million euros in 2012.

    [22] Greek exports suffer heavily from developments in Cyprus

    Greek exports could suffer significant losses from adverse financial development in Cyprus, the Panhellenic Federation of Exporters said on Tuesday.

    In a report, the Federation said that Greek exports suffered significant pressure in 2012 in its fourth largest export market worldwide, with the value of exports falling below 1.0 billion euros for the first time since 2007, falling 5.7 pct from 2011. The report noted that last year's fall evaporated all the gains recorded in Greek exports to Cyprus in the period 2007-2011, with the Cypriot market losing significant ground as a percentage of Greek exports to new EU member-states, to 56.2 pct.

    Christina Sakellaridi, president of the Federation said that "developments in Cyprus are causing concern to Greek exporters. Greek exports have lost 60 million euros following a decline in Greek exports in 2012, while any further decline in Cypriot consumers' purchasing power this year will cause additional pressure".

    Sakellaridi called for an urgent and efficient solution to the problem of Cypriot banks' subsidiaries in Greece, which play a leading role in bilateral trade transactions. Otherwise, there could be "haircuts" in recovery prospects for both economies, with long-term consequences," she said.

    [23] Tourism Minister Kefaloyianni praises private initiatives

    Tourism Minister Olga Kefaloyianni on Tuesday underlined that private initiatives that contribute to healthy competition in the sectors of production and services are welcomed and reinforced.

    Addressing an event in Iraklion, on the island of Crete, for the presentation of the summer schedule of Aegean Airlines, Kefaloyianni praised the initiative launched by the company currently servicing 158 international destinations from eight operational bases in Greece and Cyprus.

    The tourism minister underlined that the goal set is to improve competitiveness by focusing on quality services and by enriching the tourism product through the development of important forms of tourism, such as, sea cruise and medical tourism.

    Kefaloyianni said that Greece is a safe and very affordable tourism destination. "The dysfunctions of the past are history," she noted, adding that "deep structural reforms are being implemented in a short period of time. The results of this rift with the past will soon be visible in the Greek society."

    Referring to the public and private partnerships in the sector of tourism, she said that they are among the critical elements in meeting the goal set.

    [24] Deputy Dev't Minister in NYC for investments

    Deputy Development Minister Notis Mitarakis will be meeting with businessmen, investors and Greek community representatives on a two-day official visit to New York City that begins Wednesday.

    On Thursday, Mitarakis will address an investment meeting and then meet with members of The Hellenic Initiative. On Friday he will meet with investment fund representatives. He will be accompanied by Invest in Greece Managing Director Stefanos Isaias.

    [25] Eldorado Gold Corp does not rule out withdrawing from Greece

    The Canadian-based goldmine operator Eldorado Gold Corp did not rule out the likelihood to withdraw from Greece, attributing the reactions to the exploitation of the goldmines in Halkidiki peninsula and Thrace in northern Greece to petty political interests and local pressure groups.

    "The question is whether we will formulate a clear and methodical investment environment as a country. If this happens the company will stay," Hellenic Gold CEO Petros Stratoudakis, an Eldorado Gold subsidiary, said in a press conference in Athens on Tuesday.

    "The country and the government wants investments. However, I have reservations on whether investments of such a size can be handled," Stratoudakis added.

    He clarified that he does not mean that the local reactions are instigated by specific political parties noting that those reacting come from all political parties. "It will be important if reactions were accompanied by a proposal," he said.

    The company representatives presented financial and environmental figures pertaining to the investments in Halkidiki and Thrace, pointing out that the company's investments in Greece will exceed 1 billion US dollars in the next five years leading to an annual increase of 1 billion US dollars in exports from the mining of gold, copper, lead, silver and zinc. The state revenues from direct taxes in the next 20 years are estimated to 1.6 billion euros while the job positions, directly or indirectly linked to the investments, will be roughly 5,000.

    [26] Greece raises 1.3 bln euros from T-bill auction

    Greece on Tuesday successfully auctioned a 13-week Treasury bills issue raising 1.3 billion euros from the market, the Public Debt Management Organization said in a statement.

    The interest rate of the issue was set at 4.05 pct, unchanged from the previous auction of same securities in February 12. Bids submitted totaled 1.655 billion euros, 1.66 times more than the asked sum. The auction was made with the market's primary dealers while settlement date was set for Friday, 22 March.

    The organization also accepted non-competitive bids worth 300 million euros, while non-competitive bids up to 30 pct of the asked sum can be submitted by Thursday, 21 March.

    [27] Registered unemployment up 3.07 pct in Feb

    Registered unemployment rose by 3.07 pct in February from January and by 11.02 pct from February 2012, the Workforce Employment Organization (OAED) said in a report released on Tuesday.

    The report said that long-term unemployment grew 1.69 pct in February, with the South Aegean recording the highest growth rate (7.28 pct from January and 15.97 pct from February 2012). The number of unemployed people receiving unemployment benefits grew 2.65 pct in February, from January 2013, OAED said.

    The number of registered unemployed people totaled 855,286 in February, of which 366,074 men (42.8 pct) and 489,212 women (57.2 pct). Registered unemployed in the 30-54 age group accounted for 63.71 pct of total unemployed, in the -30 age group the unemployment rate was 25.96 pct and in the +55 age group the rate was 10.33 pct.

    The number of registered unemployed people not seeking jobs rose to 199,369 in February, of which 45,812 were long-term unemployed (more than 12 months). The number of unemployed people receiving benefits totaled 230,560 in February, up by 5,950 from January.

    New hirings totaled 54,775 in February, up 2.35 pct from January, and up 36.28 pct from February 2012, while dismissals totaled 37,224 in February, down 22.93 pct from January and up 2.08 pct from February last year.

    [28] Social insurance fund personnel to strike on Thursday

    The personnel in social insurance funds and organizations under the jurisdiction of the ministry of labour on Tuesday decided to launch mobilizations demanding the withdrawal of articles included in a labour ministry-sponsored draft law that provides for punitive and disciplinary sanctions on employees found guilty of engaging in behaviours that damage the social insurance system.

    Penalties will be stiffer in cases where employees are found responsible for issuing illegal pensions, allowances and benefits.

    In a press conference, personnel union representatives said that they do not wish to protect the employees found guilty of violation of duty, clarifying that they "protest against the effort to make all employees an easy target." They added that the existing legal framework approved in 2006, which was recently updated, is more than adequate.

    A work stoppage will be held from 12:00 p.m. until the end of the shift on Wednesday, while a protest rally is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. outside the labour ministry building. A 24-hour strike will be held on Thursday.

    [29] Intralot launches new internet casino game in US market

    Intralot USA, a subsidiary of Intralot Group, on Tuesday announced the launch of a new internet game "Deepstack Casino" in the US market, offering gamers to play casino-type games using virtual chips. Intralot plans to expand its activities in the US market offering more games in the internet and social media.

    [30] Three Greek food companies in Japan's food exhibition

    Three Greek companies, the chocolate factory ION (www.ion.gr), the pasta factory EURIMAC (www.eurimac.gr) and the olive oil production and trade company Etesian Gold (www.etesiangold.com) participated with their own pavilions at the 38th International Food and Beverages Exhibition Foodex 2013 which was held in early March in Tokyo.

    A total of 2,544 exhibitors from 66 countries participated and the number of visitors was estimated at 71,536.

    [31] Large turnout at ENERGY TECH exhibition in Thessaloniki

    Over 45,000 persons visited within only four days the Exhibitions ENERGY TECH, INFACOMA and FURNIDEC BUSINESS-FURNIMA organised by TIF-Helexpo in Thessaloniki.

    The turnout by hosted buyers, particularly at ENERGY TECH, posted a 130 percent increase compared with the previous exhibition, while the foreign visitors came from more than 20 countries.

    [32] Greek stocks plunge 3.85 pct on Cyprus worries

    Greek stocks suffered heavy losses in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, hit by dramatic developments in Cyprus. Bank shares were at the epicenter of selling pressure amid worries over the effects on the domestic financial system from developments in the banking system of Cyprus. Market authorities temporarily suspended trading in the shares of Bank of Cyprus and Cyprus Popular Bank, in line with a similar decision taken by Cypriot authorities.

    The composite index of the market dropped 3.85 pct to end at 923.43 points, off the day's lows of 920.74 points. The index stands 1.71 pct up from the start of the year. Turnover was a moderate 71.751 million euros.

    The Big Cap index dropped 4.88 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 6.51 pct lower. The Food sector was the only one to end higher (3.59 pct), while Financial Services (15.79 pct), Banks (9.69 pct) and Technology (8.90 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day. Coca Cola Hellenic (3.70 pct) was the only blue chip stock to end higher, while MIG (23.90 pct), Eurobank (14.65 pct), National Bank (14.57 pct) and Viohalco (13.20 pct)suffered losses.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 112 to 21 with another 19 issues unchanged. Lazaridis (27.03 pct), Progressive (25.64 pct) and Kreka (24.22 pct) were top gainers, while Fieratex (29.76 pct), Haidemenos (28.02 pct) and MIG (23.90 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Industrials: -8.62%

    Commercial: -6.08%

    Construction: -3.85%

    Oil & Gas: -4.09%

    Personal & Household: -7.94%

    Raw Materials: -8.34%

    Travel & Leisure: -2.49%

    Technology: -8.90%

    Telecoms: -7.83%

    Banks: -9.69%

    Food & Beverages: +3.59%

    Health: -7.15%

    Utilities: -8.06%

    Financial Services: -15.79%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were OTE, OPAP, Coca Cola 3E, and OLP.

    Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:

    Alpha Bank: 0.68

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 5.97

    HBC Coca Cola: 22.40

    Hellenic Petroleum: 7.75

    National Bank of Greece: 0.65

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.23

    OPAP: 6.60

    OTE: 5.30

    Bank of Piraeus: 0.18

    Titan: 13.38

    [33] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened significantly to 10 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Tuesday, from 9.36 pct on Friday, with the Greek bond yielding 11.36 pct and the German Bund 1.36 pct. Turnover totaled 11 million euros, all sell orders.

    In interbank markets, interest rates continued moving higher. The 12-month rate rose to 0.55 pct, the nine-month rate rose to 0.44 pct, the six-month rate was 0.32 pct, the three-month rate was 0.20 pct and the one-month rate was 0.12 pct.

    [34] ADEX closing report

    The June contract on the FTSE Large Cap index was trading at a discount of 4.12 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover falling to 19.417 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 7,468 contracts worth 11.001 million euros, with 28,402 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 37,278 contracts worth 8.416 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (10,926), followed by Alpha Bank (6,052), Piraeus Bank (4,135), MIG (2,884), OTE (4,487), PPC (3,040), OPAP (1,251), Mytilineos (754), Ellaktor (862), Intralot (632), Hellenic Exchanges (198), Coca Cola Hellenic (269) and Sidenor (221).

    [35] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday

    Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:

    U.S. dollar 1.313

    Pound sterling 0.868

    Danish kroner 7.567

    Swedish kroner 8.467

    Japanese yen 125.34

    Swiss franc 1.240

    Norwegian kroner 7.633

    Canadian dollar 1.346

    Australian dollar 1.266

    General News

    [36] Hagia Sophia a world cultural heritage monument, Foreign Minister

    The Foreign Ministry is "closely following developments related to the Hagia Sophia church in Istanbul and the Turkish government's switch in policy related to Christian monuments on its territory," Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos said on Tuesday in a letter to Parliament.

    Responding to a question by Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avghi) deputy Christos Pappas, Avramopoulos said that the idea of converting the Byzantine monument from a museum it currently is to a mosque was in a proposal tabled in the Turkish Parliament. He added that Turkish official comments about also converting other Byzantine monuments into mosques raised concerns.

    "Both Greece and the rest of the Christian world hope that the voice of logic - including that of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew - will prevail in Turkey and the monuments that play such a symbolic role for Christianity and are an integral and visible part of the world's cultural heritage will be respected," Avramopoulos said.

    The issue has been mentioned to the Turkish side and he is considering raising the issue with international organisations as well, the Minister said.

    [37] Road fatalities drop by 10 pct in Greece, EU

    BRUSSELS (AMNA/V. Demiris)

    Road fatalities in Greece dropped by 10 pct in 2012, compared to 2011, according to the European Commission which released the data on Tuesday.

    The average reduction ion the EU was 9 pct, the Commission said, on target for 2012. Countries with the lowest fatal accident rates are the same as in 2011 - United Kingdom, Sweden, the Low Countries and Denmark - where there are 30 deaths for every million residents.

    But the Commission added that the most cause for concern in the data was a the high number in deaths of more susceptible groups like pedestrians, motorcycle riders and the elderly, despite a drop in their fatalities for 2011.

    Starting with January this year, the Commission has established stricter tests for motorcycle licences and, as of November 2012, cross-border rules to lower accidents in countries other than those of the driver's origin, especially in cases of drunk driving, high-speed driving, and so on.

    [38] Peloponnese towns to haul garbage to Attica landfill

    The prefectures of Tripolis and Ermionida in the Peloponnese will be sending 90 tonnes of refuse daily to the landfill station (XYTA) of Fyli, in western Attica, following a ministerial decision.

    In a press release Tuesday, union of Greek prefectures (EDSNA) president Yiannis Sgouros, also Attica prefect, said the decision was a departure from existing regulations and called on the union to take a stance and make sure there is strict adherence to the six-month plan to manage the landfill and make sure the quantity of household waste it can receive is not exceeded.

    He also called for state intervention to manage the union's debt of 76.2 million euros, and that the Peloponnese townships using the landfill prepaid their dues.

    The Fyli landfill already handles 90 pct of Athens' waste and is expected to reach capacity by the end of 2014.

    [39] Police dismantle gang that punched a 89-year-old to death for 150 euros

    Police have dismantled a gang who severely punched an 89-year-old man in the northern Athens suburb of Maroussi on January 28, stealing 150 euros and some jewellery and causing his death in hospital a few days later.

    Over the past three months in the Attica prefecture, the gang of Roma would cut the power supply of elderly people's homes and when they emerged to see what was happening beat them up and robbed them.

    The gang was dismantled after two of its members, aged 20 and 25, were arrested in the region of Ano Liosia, while another two of their accomplices are being sought, one of whom is known to the authorities.

    [40] Three suspects escape from police lock-up facility in Agrinio

    A police operation was underway on Tuesday in the wider region of Agrinio, central Greece, to locate three detained suspects that escaped early Tuesday from the police lock up facilities in Agrinio.

    According to information, police officers have already arrested one of the fugitives, a 30-year-old local charged with misdemeanor.

    The two other fugitives, a 29-year-old Albanian who is charged with homicide and a 22-year-old local charged with misdemeanor are still wanted.

    The three fugitives managed to escape after cutting with a sharp object the bar of the lock up facility's window.

    Weather forecast

    [41] Cloudy on Wednesday

    Cloudy weather and southerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday. Winds 3-8 beaufort. Temperatures between 6C and 24C. Slightly cloudy in Athens with southerly 3-5 beaufort winds and temperatures between 9C and 21C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 6C and 17C.

    [42] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    DIMOKRATIA: "Attila on bank deposits".

    EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: "European derailment".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Euro-looting opens up Aeolus' wind bags".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Cyprus' looting with German seal".

    ESTIA: "Danger of tsunami from Cyprus".

    ETHNOS: "Cyprus with the gun at its head".

    IMERISSIA: "EU's wrong decision".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "Next hours crucial for Cyprus and eurozone".

    TA NEA: "Crime and punishment".

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